January 31, 2023

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Two MEPs authorize unannounced trips to Qatar

Belgian MEP Marc Darabella did not declare a trip paid for QatarHis lawyer admitted on Sunday, days after his colleague Mary Arena, amid corruption allegations in the European Parliament, made a similar “oversight” statement about her stay in the emirate.

Belgian justice officials have requested Marc Darabella’s immunity be waived after four people were indicted on charges of corruption for the benefit of Qatar. Pier Antonio PanzeriAt the center of the case is a former Italian MEP, from whom €600,000 in cash was seized.

“He hasn’t said yet”

Mark Darabella, whose home was also raided, denies any involvement, but the elected Socialist admits he took a trip to Qatar in February 2020, which he paid for without notifying parliament.

“He was invited to a congress (…). It was this organization that paid,” said his lawyer Maxime Toler on the Belgian channel RTL. “He has not announced yet (…). He later moved to Ghana and was there later Covid (…). His collaborator reminds him to do so, but the deadline has passed,” he explained, pointing to the “reality on the ground.” “He will formalize things (…). “There is nothing illegal about a company paying for a trip,” the lawyer insisted, adding that the elected official “went to see the stadiums being built and asked to meet the workers.”

“There’s little Italian in the back of the trattoria”

Mark Darabella underscored the “positive evolution” of Hemicycle in November. rights In Qatar – in the name of “realpolitik” and “incentive”, according to Maxim Toller.

The lawyer tried to explain his client’s “friendship” with Pierre-Antonio Panzeri: “He’s not a little Italian downstairs in a trattoria (…). He was elected MEP three times, (he’s) a very respectable person (…). He really (Mark Darabella) might have advised to say such a thing”, without the latter “could imagine” the chosen Italian would have “cashed in on their friendship”.

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“Too complicated document to fill”

On Wednesday, Belgian Socialist MEP Marie Arena also admitted to failing to announce a mission to Qatar in May 2022, paid for by the emirate, citing “forgetfulness” by her secretariat, prompting “a very complicated document to complete”. Notice to the Belgian press.

He resigned after chairing the Human Rights Subcommittee European ParliamentThe post was previously held by Pier-Antonio Panzeri and Marie Arena retired in December.

“This decision was made in light of the political and media attacks that have harmed my reputation” and “all the work done within the subcommittee,” he explained to Belga, which had “nothing to blame themselves” and was not subject to searches or requests to waive immunity.